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Symbiotic Relationship of Modern Contract and Traditional Ethic: Entrepreneur’s zhongyong Rationality and Family Firm Governance Choice

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image of Frontiers of Business Research in China

What is the relationship between Chinese familism and the modern economic organization? Can a rational, contractual relationship grow out of Chinese familism that widely exists in Chinese family businesses? This paper holds that Chinese familism can nurture a rational and contractual relationship. However, such a relationship is not an extremely instrumental rationality of Logocentrism, but a zhongyong rationality characteristic of Confucian culture essence. This paper verifies empirically for the first time the existence of zhongyong rationality by analyzing family entrepreneurs’ governance choices. The results reveal that under the guidance of zhongyong rationality, entrepreneurs in Chinese family firms lay more emphasis on restraints than on efficiency, balance the interests among the management, the firm and the owning family, and maintain equilibrium between the insiders and outsiders. This research also finds that a shift from instrumental rationality to zhongyong rationality can provide more satisfactory and indigenous explanations to some phenomena widely in existence among Chinese family firms, as compared with corresponding Western theories.


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